Earlier this year Steven Spohn hit an incredible fundraising landmark prior to his 40th Birthday; in forming alliances with a lot of creators and gamers globally, along with some welcome support from influential figures, he raised over one million dollars in less than a year and ahead of schedule. It was an indicator of the positives that can be achieved through social media and streaming platforms, a welcome antidote to the problems that can easily be found online. That money is providing a notable boost to AbleGamers, an organisation for which he serves as Chief Operating Officer.
AbleGamers is one of many organisations that addresses various challenges and areas around accessibility in gaming - ensuring those that have challenges playing games have the support and tools that are necessary. It's a multi-faceted set of issues; areas to address can range from working towards physical controller and input solutions, to teaching developers how to deliver extensive accessibility options in games, right through to giving those in need avenues and communities in which to enjoy the social aspects of gaming.
Accessibility in gaming has also come a very long way; as you'll see in the interview below Spohn believes it's moved on from advocacy to action, which is a positive progression. You'll often see extensive headlines when major new game releases go the extra mile in accessibility options, for example putting the related settings at the start of the first-time boot-up process, so those that need to make adjustments don't need to access and dig through menus.
We largely spoke about how far things have come, but we did also get to Nintendo, too. When the Switch launched the company was criticised for its lack of features and accessibility; it's improved in some respects through firmware updates, but is still arguably behind other platforms. Nintendo has given a response, however, so that perspective is also shared.
Below is the transcript of our interview, albeit lightly edited for clarity.
Could you talk about the origins of the Spawn Together campaign, and how confident you were of hitting the $1 million goal?
You know, much like the video I put on Twitter talks about, this was the height of the pandemic and I was just about to turn 40 years old. When you turn 40 years old society tells you that you've gotta do something big, like put on a perfectly good parachute and jump out of a perfectly good plane. That wasn't going to happen in my case, and being an extremely disabled individual - I've got the powered wheelchair and the ventilator going on - there wasn't anything I could do that was safe, even in the restricted small bubbles that they were advising. It was too risky for me to go out and do anything to celebrate.
So I kept thinking about the predicament, and for my 39th birthday I'd reached out to Dwayne Johnson, 'The Rock', and said "hey, do you want to be friends". And I got through to him and we got to talk and that was cool, but that was a pretty high bar I set for myself at 39. So I thought, well, if this pandemic's gonna get me then I'm going to go out swinging hard, to make sure something lives beyond me. I wanted to raise money for the charity that I've been trying to help get off the ground for 15 years, and really give it a good foundation to keep doing amazing things.
And, you know, it worked out really well. A lot of people answered within the first couple of days, we raised $180,000 within the first three days. Within the first month or so it got to $300,000, and it kept progressing from there. The originality of the event was just a thought in my brain. Everybody turns to big streamers, you know, 'what are they raising money for?'. They have the large communities that can raise a million dollars, which is great, but what about the people who can only raise $100 or $200, or even $5, what about them? And I thought what if we can get all of them to get behind one single cause, and we saw the results.
If you set a bunch of people to the same mission, point them in the same direction, you can really move the needle for good. That's what we did here. Did I think we'd get there? No, I did not. I really had no faith in myself that I could rally enough troops to get this done, and I have found in life that it's way better to underestimate your potential and go in with "hey at least I tried", that way you're not disappointed if it doesn't work out. But sometimes you take your shots and they land, and you can be happy when they do.
It seemed to be a campaign that captured the imaginations of many people. You talk about embracing as wide a community as possible, how important are those online communities to gaming as a whole but particularly the work you do, raising awareness and funds for AbleGamers?
The thing about working with content creators of various sizes is that you're still dealing with people, who have things that they care about and want to support. It doesn't really matter what their size is, though sometimes maybe the larger ones can get jaded because they've been offered a lot of deals, they've had people trying to take advantage of them. They might be on their guard because not everyone's a good human being and they might have to protect themselves. That's understandable for any size, we all want to have our wishes and boundaries respected.
But at the end of the day you just get through to them by showing what it is you're trying to accomplish, whether raising money in my case for people with disabilities, or support children in hospital, or support people getting controllers at home, or supporting a dog charity, it doesn't matter. What matters is you show content creators what you believe in, and some of them will come along because they believe in what you do as well. That's a lot of what I did.
To their credit I spoke to several people who I consider friends and said "hey, I'm doing this", and they said that's great, good luck, but I'm not comfortable going out and raising money during a pandemic, I don't want to ask people for money, maybe I can just send you a raid. Or hey I love what you do because I want to support things so dogs have a place to go because they're getting kicked out of their homes. And it's like "ok great, you support what you believe in". I think a lot of the mixing and matching of creators is about finding who is interested in your cause and getting them banded together.
It's nice to know that things do change as time goes on, and nowadays there's not a week that goes by where somebody at AbleGamers does not have an email from a new publisher or developer who's saying "I want to design accessibly, what do I do about this".
In banding together so many people, is there a benefit in educating and enlightening more people about accessibility issues, and have you seen that happen more in recent years, and on streaming platforms / social media?
About 14 years ago, when AbleGamers was a very young charity, we went to GDC (Game Developers Conference) in America, and basically asked one question on a video camera. We set it up in the lobby in the middle of GDC and said "have you ever thought about designing for people with disabilities". And we got a whole bunch of people who said "no", a couple of people who said "yes", and one dude who laughed at us and walked away.
Since then, we've made it our mission to continue raising awareness, and continue making people more aware of the importance of including that audience. There are 56 million peoples with disabilities in America alone, 7 million in Canada, and the numbers continue to climb from there. Those people needed support, they needed champions advocating for them in the gaming space, and that was part of what AbleGamers does.
Now there are a lot of advocates out there, people not affiliated with AbleGamers who are also doing great advocacy. What we're seen is the tide shifting. I told you an instance of a developer laughing and walking away, but if we did that same video interview today I guarantee you that not one person would laugh and almost nobody would say they hadn't at least thought about how to do accessibility. It's changed in that time, it's a different gaming world now.
It's actually kind of interesting, to be a bit older and see the world change like that, it's kind of fun. It's nice to know that things do change as time goes on, and nowadays there's not a week that goes by where somebody at AbleGamers does not have an email from a new publisher or developer who's saying "I want to design accessibly, what do I do about this". It's a big change, it's gone from us having to hunt people down to having developers come to us.
We were looking at the work you do, and it's interesting that you offer both practical support but also helping people to connect socially. To start with the social aspect, how has that grown and evolved with the change in attitudes?
What we say with AbleGamers is that we've moved from advocacy to action. We originally were all about advocacy, convincing the gaming world that people with disabilities mattered and existed, stop ignoring and placating. To changing to action.
We've largely thrown up the aircraft carrier banner saying "we did it", with the thanks of a lot of advocates around the world. We can't go far in video games now without seeing something about accessibility, it's out there and people who are not using accessibility is doing so purposefully. There's no-one out there can say they haven't heard of it. That's just not a thing any more, so the advocacy is done.
Now we're onto action, now we're onto "this is a form of mental health, this is defeating social isolation, this is conquering the barriers of inequality, this is making sure that the quality of life for people with disabilities can be improved through these wonderful mediums of video games". These are all things that both disabled and able-bodied gamers have in common, whether it's that you're able bodied and I'm not, it doesn't matter. What matters is that you feel lonely sometimes, so do I, I want my quality of life to be better sometimes, so do you. It's things we can both commonly agree that video games can provide for us, and help us, and we just want to make sure that everyone is included.
Can you perhaps give an example of a project or event that is designed around that social aspect, and the reaction you see out of those that take part?
Absolutely. Spawn Together was a great one but that wasn't an AbleGamers initiative, that was just a Steve initiative! To speak to the programmes of AbleGamers, an example is our Expansion Packs. So, the Expansion Packs are where we take 10 to $12,000 of equipment, adapters, peripherals, swag from the game companies, and we go into a hospital or centre and we make a little room or corner that is a game zone where we go and have fun. The idea is that it's a place to take people out of the hospital for a minute and just have fun.
We did this at a hospital just outside of New York called Helen Hayes. Now, Helen Hayes is a relocation hospital that mainly focuses on people that have been injured due to a fall or a traumatic event, and getting them back onto their feet. We went there and they had a rec room setup, we took over part of that and setup a whole bunch of gaming controllers. Including one where you use your eyes to control the entire gaming apparatus. So you stare at a screen with planet Earth and there are asteroids coming, and the only way to attack the asteroids is to use your laser beam eyes to blow them up.
It's a really fun game and a lot of people had a good time, until the final day we were there we had gone outside to talk to some of the doctors and residents; the patients inside thought we were already gone, and they were into playing the games and not paying any attention to where we were. On the outside of the room a hush fell over us when we heard, from inside, three patients sort of chastising each other, like "haha, I did better than you" and so on. Sure enough, after listening to them for a few minutes they were setting up a tournament, competing against each other to see who could get the top score.
That right there is a great indication of how video games bring social contact almost by default. We think of games almost as an isolated sport but it's not. Even if a game is single player a bunch playing the same game start comparing scores and stats, there's that banter. That social output is really what this is all about. People consider AbleGamers a video game charity, but we're not. We're a humanitarian charity, we're a disability charity, we're not a video game charity. Video games are just the thing that we love and the tool that we use to allow people to combat social isolation.
You're talking about video games as a tool, which leads us to another key area. Can you talk about the development tools and resources that now exist, and how you work with studios to make games as accessible as possible?
There's a lot of great things out there that AbleGamers came up with, that we're very proud of. The number one and foremost is accessible.games. This is the website for accessible player experiences, or 'APX'. APX is a course where you can go in and see how you design with disabilities in mind. It breaks it down to input and control patterns. So let's say I'm a developer that really wants to make sure I'm including as many people as possible. I look on the website and look at some of the top things that people with disabilities need.
I can then think ok, instead of developing for various individual conditions like multiple sclerosis, ALS or others, I can instead look at a case like some people have problems getting their hand to co-operate to click on a certain button, which makes them click the wrong button. So we need a way to undo a mistake and let them do it again, let's call it undo-redo, and then what if the game is bit rough and can't be completed by someone because they have a physical limitation on how 'good' they can get. It's not a challenge in the way of a skill, but that their body isn't listening to the commands that the brain is giving like needing to move and shoot this person, or jump over a thing.
Well, the game can help. Let's call that 'helping hand'. And then we repeat this process, over and over and over until there's a new language, and this language is something the developers can and are adapting. We've had over 250, at this point, accessible practitioners (which we call graduates of the class) who are coming through and can speak that language. So, if you and I are developers I don't need to sit here and describe a disability, a person's challenges and things they may or may not be able to do, I can just say to you "hey, just so you know our game has big undo-redo problem, there are just too many barriers to doing the same thing, and also the helping hand is failing". You now understand in two sentences what would normally be a five minute block of text.
So now you can "oh cool, here's some ideas". Because, at the end of the day, AbleGamers is a charity that helps developers do things better in what they do. But we're not developers ourselves, so we're not telling developers how to develop. Gosh, we have a class every six weeks full of new, hopeful, bright accessibility practitioners, and when we give them workshops, when we give them tests like "here's a space simulator game, there's something wonky about it, what would you do". It's never the same answer twice, every single class has a different answer to solve the same problem.
That's exactly what we want, we don't want to tell developers how to develop things. The people on the internet saying "oh you're trying to make games boring, so they're all the same", the answer is "no, we want the exact opposite!". We want developers to figure out creative solutions to allow people of all abilities to enjoy those same wonderful virtual worlds.
Can you perhaps give an example of a game you've played recently that does these things particularly well?
Absolutely, I can give a good and bad example. Everybody knows Fortnite, where you like it or hate it you know about it. So you might think about Fortnite and think "well, that's not a very accessible game", and you'd be wrong. It actually has some of the most adaptive features of any video game title, especially in the shooter realm. It allows you to open doors automatically, they have secondary - what we call 'second channel information' - like when you're near a treasure chest a little tiny symbol appears to tell you where it is in case you can't hear it. There are modality adaptions, so if I'm pushing my mouse to walk forward and I get into a vehicle, the game automatically knows that I also need the forward motion of the car to do the right click as well, because I've changed it on the walking.
So these additional keybinds being remapped automatically is a beautiful thing. Having it as a more modular design allows us to control things with less buttons and less features on a controller, which again is often a problem for people with disabilities when there are so many buttons to push, and there are only so many abilities you have. You need to reduce that number as much as possible, so that kind of thing makes it great.
On the other side you have things like the new Dungeons & Dragons game that came out, Dark Alliance. When it was launched it didn't even have button re-mapping, you couldn't change the keyboard controller, the button layout, they were all locked in. In 2021, the year of our Lord 2021, no controller remapping, can you imagine? Yet they decided to do that as a feature.
And, you know, unfortunately for them people took them to task, they told them about it on Twitter, and yelled about it on Reddit and social media, and eventually they started hearing people and they're going to put that in, so they say, but it's too late. The game has launched and they've missed that opening window.
So some things, when you think about accessibility, are considered standard now. When you think about the DVD of your favourite movie right now, you know there's going to be closed captioning, right? There is, because of course there is, it's in every single movie. Same things with video games and remapping, of course there's going to be remapping, so when there's not it leads to a situation where people get upset. There's the two ends of the spectrum where you have good, bad, and there's everything in between.
Nintendo's in that same realm, they really need to come along when it comes to accessibility. Nintendo is lagging behind the other big consoles and I think it's a shame, because there are so many wonderful Nintendo titles that people just want to enjoy, whether it's Super Mario or Zelda. We all know these are household names. And you want to be able to jump in and play with friends, no matter what console it is. So I hope that Nintendo starts stepping up and bringing accessibility to the plate too.
Nintendo is lagging behind the other big consoles and I think it's a shame, because there are so many wonderful Nintendo titles that people just want to enjoy, whether it's Super Mario or Zelda.
Nintendo says in its business that it has a philosophy of having as wide a gaming audience as possible, yet it seems to me - with a very inexperienced eye - to do relatively little in terms of accessibility. Do you feel that they're open to improving this area, or have thoughts on the early steps they can take?
I wish I knew what happened with Nintendo, and why I cherish interviews with Nintendo-focused magazines and outlets the most. Because I want to continue to get more Nintendo players to be behind the cause of accessibility. I doubt at this point that there's many out there reading this that are like "ew, accessibility, gross". No, it's not like that. So, why Nintendo continues to lag behind is a puzzle to me.
So, fact, for you, that a lot of your readers may or may not know. Nintendo was actually the first to come out with an accessible controller. Nintendo had this wonderful device that had a sort of horse shoe harness that you put around the back of your neck, and you put a controller module - it was a big device - but it put a module up to your mouth where you could use your chin or lower lip to move a joystick and be able to control a video game, back then the original Nintendo / NES. Accessibility was early stages, of course, no-one wants to wear a metal harness to play a video game, but that was back in the '80s when things were still new and engineers were figuring stuff out.
It's really sad that back in the day Nintendo was at the forefront of accessibility, and at some point they just stopped. I don't know, to this day, if that is a lack of care from the top brass, or whether someone at the company just doesn't prioritise that. But, there are decisions that Nintendo and the developers it buys / publishes have made. For example in one of the more recent iterations of Pokémon you have a situation where one of the side quests is to put in a 'hearing bud', and that 'hearing bud' allows you to turn on closed captioning. And that's kept in a sidequest. Why are accessibility options hidden beneath a sidequest, it shouldn't be that way.
I don't know why they've made those decisions, and all I can to is continue to encourage and implore Nintendo to care, and implore your readers to start getting after Nintendo. The only way Nintendo is going to decide to change that viewpoint is when enough of our Nintendo-loving people say "hey, this is important to me too, you need to take care of this".
How much farther ahead, or what examples are there, from PlayStation and Microsoft that show the standards Nintendo should at least try to match?
At the very least Xbox has co-pilot mode, where you can have two controllers controlling the same video game. That allows for a situation where, if you are disabled and want to play a game but don't have enough physical ability, you can have an able-bodied friend - or a disabled friend who has different abilities to you - to join forces and play a game. We see this a lot in parents who are able bodied and children who are disabled - or vice-versa - when maybe the child doesn't have a lot of ability but can push one button.
Well now I can plug in my Forza game and I can control steering and gas, but they can control the brakes, or they can control the pit stop or shifting gears. They can have a part and be included in the fun. They're participating and not just watching, and that participating, actively engaging in the experience, is what makes people feel fulfilled and joyful.
[Author's note: Steven also highlighted button mapping on PlayStation here as a positive, albeit imperfect, solution. Nintendo Switch added this functionality in July 2021, over four years after the Switch launched and with little fanfare. That functionality is in place though, so that is a welcome, albeit limited, sign of progress. Steven has also explained that "the adoption rate of PlayStation accessibility has been much greater. I'm not sure why but people really don't mention Switch remapping as a positive."]
Nintendo has to stop with worrying about gadgets and gizmos. For a while we were using a gyroscope, then blowing into the controller, and these are cool gimmicks I suppose but if all you're trying to do is play the video game you don't care about these things, you're worried about "can I push the main 6 or 8 buttons to play the game. Nintendo just needs to take some pages out of others' books and reach out to places like AbleGamers, we would be happy to talk to them. And there are whole bunches of advocates out there, you don't have to work with AbleGamers because some guy called Steve Spohn has chastised you too much in too many interviews. Fine, work with a different ally!
These are the things they can do to make things better. It wouldn't take a lot of effort from them just to do the basic level stuff as an entry point.
We shared Steven Spohn's remarks to Nintendo, which provided us with the following statement:
Nintendo endeavours to provide products and services that can be enjoyed by everyone. Our products offer a range of accessibility features, such as button-mapping, motion controls, a zoom feature, grayscale and inverted colours, haptic and audio feedback, and other innovative gameplay options. Nintendo’s software and hardware developers also continue to evaluate different technologies to expand this accessibility in current and future products.
We'd like to thank Steven Spohn for his time. He is once again teaming up with gaming fans, streamers and content creators for another Spawn Together campaign; you can read more about that here.
You can also learn more about AbleGamers and its work on its official website.
Everything comes at a price for both those with handicap and those without. The developers have a difficult time juggling those needs. The publishers of games whom doesn't write and develope the games have less to worry about thier budget restraints. That's what is also missing in this article. Nintendo had to weight cost to return when they decide if producing this games wil benefit them and the developers. If this can't be sustained that is also why they stopped such ventures. As anyone knows it can take years for a game to reach the End-user it's not like it pops up overnight and even then if testing goes south that can make or break the developers. Us so called normal everyday people still don't know how much programming is underneath every game even though it looks so simple. To make it adaptable to those with handicap is alot harder then people make it out to be. Games requires alot if $$$ capital to even start the process and even then whom is going support is another cause itself. As one can see from here 100's thousands of dollar is a drop in the bucket and isn't going to go far.
"Nintendo has to stop with worrying about gadgets and gizmos. For a while we were using a gyroscope, then blowing into the controller, and these are cool gimmicks I suppose but if all you're trying to do is play the video game you don't care about these things, you're worried about 'can I push the main 6 or 8 buttons to play the game.' Nintendo just needs to take some pages out of others' books and reach out to places like AbleGamers, we would be happy to talk to them."
...nah. I appreciate what the guy is saying, and I would like to see Nintendo expand accessibility options for most of their games where possible through common-sense workarounds, but I don't think it's fair or realistic to expect Nintendo to stop implementing their experimental control schemes. Which isn't to say that accessibility isn't important, but the answer isn't to limit all game controls to 6 - 8 main buttons to cater to a tiny minority of their total audience.
edit: Also just noticed that horrifying chicken man holding the bottom of his shell up with suspenders in that Fortnite pic. What the hell!
@Ralizah agreed, it is indeed unfortunate for those that cannot enjoy it but Nintendo has always experimented with nifty ideas and should never stop doing so.
"everyone should be able to do everything!"
Nintendo still release games that can be played with 2 or 3 buttons. Why don't Sony and Microsoft do that? Is it because they're evil?
@KillerBOB I mean...yeah. Why not? Don't be a gatekeeper for video games, everyone deserves to play.
Idk about anyone else, but I had TWENTY-TWO separate adverts for Dying Light 2 just on this page alone. I’d like to go at least 1 paragraph without having the exact same product shoved in my face again and again. This is precisely why I have AdBlock on my laptop 🙄
If indie developers with a fraction of Nintendo's budget can add accessibility options to their games, Nintendo can do it too.
They did a good thing with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with automatic acceleration, motion control options, and power steering. But since then, they don't even do the bare minimum like mappable controls inside of a game's menu (having a system wide control mapper is unwieldy), colorblind features, larger text, or disabling flashing effects.
Everyone deserves a chance to play, and for a company that positions itself as fun for everyone, Nintendo have lost sight of that.
@Markiemania95 Assuming you're on mobile now, just use the AdBlock browser.
Why should Nintendo ditch the experimental/creative aspect? Should they just be generic game boxes like PlayStation/Xbox?
I don't agree with the stance that innovation should be curbed in favour of catering to a very small minority. Now that we live in the height of social media and feedback bubbles, disabled gamers (or other tiny groups) erroneously believe they make up a large enough demographic that Nintendo should shift its business practices and philosophy, when in reality that makes little sense.
Not everything is designed for everybody, and that is okay.
With Switch, Nintendo has made some moves towards better accessibility, at least at a software-level with the zoom-function & inverted colors. But so far they've only helped people with bad eyes with these functions.
If there’s going to be gimmicks, there should also be button workarounds. Super Mario Odyssey for example does that with the motion controls. This is a great interview with somebody who’s changed the lives of many many people. What an abhorrent comment section laying into him.
This might be a bit ofa personal peev but the thing that gets me is text size, especially on Switch. I am getting older and my eyesight is getting worse and I just dont get why it always has to be so small. Most of the time when you are reading that is all you are doing in that moment so why not use a bit more screen space?
Love me some Feels good news
Sometimes my fellow gamers surprise me and bring a good feeling rather a loathsome one. Very special and very awesome thing to see. Thank you to all who contributed. ❤️❤️
This was definitely a solid read, and I am glad the video game medium has reached this point to where we are trying to include everyone in on the love of video games. Everyone deserves a good life full of great experiences in my book.
I recently had a lengthy discussion on this site about whether all games should include difficulty options, or assist modes. I came away with the impression that, in most cases, people are in support of that (I'm not). So I'm kinda surprised the comment section thus far is opposed to improving accessibility. Chances are folks - you're gonna get old or, God forbid, disabled and have trouble physically playing your games. This is important stuff. I think it was a bit asanine for him to criticize Ninty for gimmicks, but otherwise it's a great subject.
Yeah, in the past year I’ve read some great articles on NL (including this one) but they often attract hundreds of lame comments.
The insistence on this sort of ableist gatekeeping is bizarre, especially when the arguments center on armchair economics or a “tough sh**” stance.
@CharlieGirl I get to an extend that things like colorblind modes, captions that indicate the speaker, button mapping etc. are good features to have for everyone really.
But what does irk me is that certain people push for things like 'making dark souls easy' if dark souls is too hard, it's not for you.
play an easier action RPG, I enjoy racing from time to time but anything close to simulation is me wrecking cars so I don't play them but there are still plenty of arcade racers giving me what I like about racing.
But all people deserve a shot at being able to play games in general because it's fun and brings people together(sometimes it devides ... dang red shells)
Funny how this article comes out the day after I begin playing Metroid: Fusion. Great, atmospheric game, but certainly a case in point for what this guy is saying. Even though I'm an experienced gamer (I've owned pretty much every major console since the Atari 2600 and thousands of games of all genres, and beaten the likes of Super Mario World and Mario 64 with 100 percent completion), I admit that Metroid Dread's controls are pushing the limits of accessibility even for many non-disabled players.
This isn't merely an issue of difficulty, either (and Metroid Dread can be quite a difficult game in many places to begin with). Not only is every single button on the Switch Pro controller utilized (with the ironic exception of the A button, which would seem to be the most natural "main" button for myself and probably many other players in games of this type; I must say I am surprised Nintendo didn't at least include the option for users to customize the controls/button layout to their liking), but there are often situations (using the Omega Beam against EMMIs, for example) where you must press/hold up to THREE buttons simultaneously while also aiming with the left stick. You even need to press the right stick to use the Phantom Cloak because there aren't enough regular buttons to do the job.
I get it; modern games are more complex, and modern controllers have become much more complex to accommodate them. I also realize there is simply no reasonable way to simplify such complex and sometimes convoluted controls to the point where physically disabled gamers can navigate them. FPSes have been this way for years, and while they're extremely popular that complexity combined with skill gaps in multiplayer that are likely insurmountable for new or occasional users (those who don't eat, drink, and breathe those types of games and can one-shot you while moving horizontally through the air) creates a barrier for many players (the recent Halo Infinite preview was a sobering reminder of that fact for me). But we're reaching a point where even some mainline, AAA IPs like Metroid are now reaching a similar UI complexity. They may be necessary to achieve the developers' vision, but when it comes at the cost of many players no longer being able to see that vision play out, is it worth it?
As I've gotten older I've seen my own abilities as a gamer change; like it or not I know my reflexes have slowed a bit. I also suffer from severe clinical anxiety, so playing a title like Metroid Dread, while the exploration and discovery are enjoyable, can be borderline unbearable when having to repeat stuff over and over to succeed. As a result I've found myself gravitating increasingly to genres like turn-based Strategy and JRPG/SRPGs over the years. I still have a desire to experience the likes of Halo, Metroid, and other more intense games, but I generally take them in shorter sessions.
It stinks that some folks aren't able to do that much, that their physical situations won't allow them to enjoy a great hobby that millions of us take for granted. But speaking from personal experience, it's also important to understand that circumstances, health and ability change for every one of us (and that can happen as we age or suddenly), and there will inevitably come a day when you'll realize you've done a given activity for the very last time.
The more complex UIs become, the closer that day gets for every one of us with regard to videogames. Sometimes, less is more.
@khululy I don't realistically see how you can support including optional accessibility features and workarounds for disabled people and simultaneously oppose optional difficulty settings for games like Dark Souls.
I feel the same way about optional difficulty settings as I do about accessibility options. They shouldn't be used as an excuse to alter the core design of a game, but, when they can be implemented in an optional manner to make it possible for more people to enjoy the games, then they probably should be implemented.
There's zero reason to oppose the inclusion of features that don't take away from the default experience of playing a game unless your enjoyment of the game at least partially extends to the way it keeps certain groups of people from fully enjoying it, which, tbh, is very much the vibe I get from much of the Souls playerbase.
@nessisonett RE Super Mario Odyssey: they don't fully work around the motion controls. There's no non-motion solution for the upward hat throw, for example, and you can't fully take advantage of several of the transformations without shaking the controller.
And some of the button workarounds for motion controls are complex enough that they don't really work accessibility-wise, IMO.
Not having an experimental control scheme doesnt mean that nintendo cant be creative. neither does it mean they cant have unique peripherals for games like ring fit.
Having a system and games which work with multiple control schemes is not only good for the likes of future proofing and not only allows players to play with a control scheme they are comfortable with but for some can be absolutely life changing.
the switch i feel is a big step up in this regard since it is a lot less restrictive on how you play the games compared to previous systems, at least as the system went on, we have seen more games which support both buttons and motion controls and for the former that also means its a lot easier to use adaptive controllers.
in short, games can still be creative, and games can still be challenging, just make sure the basic act of controlling the game largely up to the player.
I mean, dark souls 3 still kept the same core design even when someone was using bananas to play it.
@Ralizah sorry for interjecting since your @ wasnt directed at me, but in any case: Accessibility options and difficulty options aren't mutually exclusive. Giving someone the ability to play something they otherwise wouldn't have been able to due to physical infirmity or disability is quite different from altering the balance of a game designed around learning from repeated failure (like Dark Souls).
@Mgalens Dark Souls 3 bananas? What is this madness you speak of?
Selling you overpriced gloves because you got an awful blister playing Mario party isn’t my idea of accessibility lmao
I got stuck in Nioh because a boss was too hard for me, I put the game down and moved on.
as I am getting older my reaction time wanes and I never had a sense of rythm so most rythm games are unplayable for me.
Now some rythm game have solutions to the button timing delay but nothing can fix my lack of rythm.
I also have stiff and clumsy motor skill I will never be a great dancer or sports man. that is just how life is and sometimes people just have to accept there are limits to things they can do.
Heck, Nintendo struggles to make games accessible for lefties. It's not like Nintendo isn't make games accessible because it would ruin the integrity of the game design, or other such nonsense, they don't even notice there's a problem in the first place, and that's the issue
I had this argument the other day about the new Metroid not having an easy mode. Personally I argued that not every single game needs an easy mode; if I'm playing Donkey Kong Country, or Crash Bandicoot, or Demon's Souls, I expect a challenge. And this is coming from someone who's handicapped himself. I've learned that there's some things I just can't do, some things just aren't handicap compatible, and that's okay. Not every video game is going to be accessible; as mentioned above some genres are just built in a way that require better timing and precision.
With that being said, I do agree that more options should be available, at least on the console's base level. More of those specially designed controllers would be a huge benefit to several players. But not every single game needs an easy mode. That's just the way I see it.
@Losermagnet I didn't say they were. But you can lower the difficulty of Dark Souls without ruining the 'learning from your mistakes' nature of the gameplay. Damage multipliers are the obvious thing to tinker with, but you could also include options to help players navigate their environments more effectively. Neither of those would "ruin" the core experience of playing the game any more than including accessibility options to help disabled gamers would in others.
The difference is that most people know it's dickish to oppose including accessibility features for no reason, whereas, for whatever reasons, the Dark Souls fandom has accepted and normalized really toxic gatekeeping behavior and mindsets.
Dark Souls isn't some perfect, holy experience handed down from God. It's a game, and it can (and probably should) include options to help more people enjoy it as long as these don't compromise the core experience the fans expect.
So let's shift the conversation from Nintendo to things any game developer should be able to implement:
These are probably the basic features that should be available for a game. Anything else is extra or obstacles people have to overcome. Also if there is money to be had, some business entity will create products to cater to this demographic
@Darlinfan No, the mindset you're embodying is pretty toxic. The moment someone suggests a thing could be implemented in your precious game, that, again, WOULDN'T IMPACT THE CORE EXPERIENCE FOR SERIES FANS AT ALL, you fall back on this outraged, elitist rhetoric.
This is what I meant when I said the Dark Souls fandom has normalized toxic behaviors and mindsets in its players.
Well, it depends on the Game and on what it is aiming for.
Especially competitive Games can't add Stuff to help People as easy as a Single Player or cooperative Game.
Games based on fast Player Reaction as Contra III also seem pretty hard to adopt without adding Cheats.
I have to think on aiding Modes as in Mario Kart 8 or Yoshis Wooly World.
The most easy Thing most could implement and make even non disabled Players happy would be configurable Controls.
I mean, it is something old Games had as a Standard.
Once i broke my Arm and the go to Games were turn based, be it a RPG as Final Fantasy or strategy like Civilization.
We can expect to make it easier in some Games to add Accesibility, but not in all, this would sacrifice many Genres and what the Creators are leading to.
@Ralizah If that's the way you feel that's cool. I see the difficulty in Dark Souls as I would the horror in something like Silent Hill. It's meant as a manipulative deterrent. Reduce that and the game just kinda crumbles. Dark Souls isn't some precious object that sits above the common sense criticisms of people. Matter-of-fact, Dark Souls would just be boring if you took the challenge out. It removes the foundational cornerstone, and the game becomes a dull, slow, hack 'n slash RPG. There's a reason why the easiest bosses in the Dark Souls series are considered the worst - they're the most boring.
To try to get back on subject. I guess I just feel like you should be able to play a game with whatever means you have. It's about more people being able to play more games (not just Dark Souls).
@Losermagnet I submit that if a game has to be difficult to be interesting, then it is an artistic failure.
With that said, it shouldn't matter to series' fans. What someone chooses to value in a game is their business. If fans see extreme difficulty as part of the appeal of the series, then they simply shouldn't play on an easy difficulty. Meanwhile, many more people would be able to enjoy the game without wanting to tear their hair out.
For example, I'm a fan of the Etrian Odyssey series, which has long been considered exceptionally difficult. The difficulty does factor into my enjoyment of the series. With that said, I don't feel like anything has been lost since recent entries started including difficulty settings to make the series more accessible for other players, and I think it would be quite a nasty thing to insist difficulty settings not be included just because they wouldn't personally enhance my enjoyment of the games.
Nintendo, and anyother company doesn’t need or has to catter to a very small demographic.
But Good Luck anyway
How small is the demographic?
Another great interview and article highlighting some continued issues.
Bit of a shame to see some of the negative feedback in the comment section here. Accessibility is a good thing.
Even if that's difficulty modes, it's giving the player the choice - ie you dont need to lower it if that's what you like about the game. More options open to more gamers/ buyers translates to more sales, increased profits, and therefore increased likelihood of them putting out more games. With more accessible choices and options in games, nobody loses.
@Ralizah Respectfully, neither of our opinions of an artistic failure or success really matters since it's subjective. We both have many people that would agree and disagree with us in this case.
I think it depends on intent. Etrian Odyssey isn't oppressive. It's pretty bouncy and upbeat actually. Dark Souls is going for opressive, and it tries to accomplish that through uncompromising tension. Is it successful? I guess that varies largely from person to person.
Ima stop here. If you want to continue this train of thought, I had a lengthy discussion about it recently. Unpopular Game Opinions, page 481 I think.
from what i gather someone (or some people) beat some of the dark souls games using bananas rigged up to actions in the game. to go along with all the other creative ways people have beaten the game such as with a fishing rod controller and the wii wheel, i imagine that if it exists then someone has beaten dark souls with it.
to tie into the talk about accessibility, the fact that the game can be played in all these creative ways yet still be the dark souls we know also means that it can also work with assorted adaptive controllers allowing less able bodied players to play the game.
it definitely seems to be an area which has improved somewhat from the original days of the switch, though it could mainly be due to the switch lite rather than accessibility concerns, either way it still allows many switch games to be played in many ways, including the adaptive controller, so its still a win in the end.
This is an awesome interview, so thanks for publishing it! The thing about the pandemic that is one of the most frustrating is how people don't seem to care about those with compromised immune systems. I guess New Zealand acts like they care, but not many other places. We need the whole world to care!
@KillerBOB That line of thinking is called basic morality.
Skyward Sword HD was the final straw. It could've been the game that could've showcased Nintendo's ability to provide accessibility.
It sure did. It showed that Nintendo is absolute GARBAGE at accessibility.
Was it really that hard to provide left-handed controls in Skyward Sword HD? Was it really that hard for the game to provide mirrored controls? Many games nowadays have the option to use "southpaw" controls, which basically flip all of the buttons and optionally flips the control sticks? It's not like remapping controllers on the Switch is a good option either, considering you might get confused with the in-game icons.
I personally don't mind Nintendo lagging behind on hardware, because they don't need it to make good games. I don't mind if their games are never mature enough to the level that all those memes would expect them to be, because it just means more age groups can play that game. I sure don't mind Joy Con drift because frankly, I've never had a big issue with it, especially with free repairs (though I heard some places either don't have it or force you to pay for shipping) and the fact that I've only had drift once.
However, lack of accessibility from Nintendo is almost like the biggest betrayal ever. The most I've seen from them is the Color Lock option from Splatoon, which barely qualifies as a color-blind assist.
If a developer goes out of their way to implement accessibility options in a game, they should be lauded; but if they don't they shouldn't be knocked for that.
I love Nintendo games, obviously being on this site. But let's not have any misconceptions about this company. They exist to make money. They make tons of money by selling their brand power through outdated cheap tech to the masses. It's nice when Nintendo puts some options for accessibility but they're only ever going to do the bare minimum because they don't cater to small demographics who would make no major impact on Nintendo's bottom line if they were to boycott. This will always be something the small companies do better, like any appeal to smaller or minority demographics.
I was pretty amazed at all the accessibility options in the Last of Us Part II. I don’t need to use them, but I checked them out anyway and I was thoroughly impressed with how Naughty Dog offered so many options for disabled people. That should honestly be the standard.
@Losermagnet I mean, by that metric, nothing matters except the most clear-cut, incontestable truths about the world. I don't think opinions being "subjective" makes them meaningless. If so, a LOT of important fields and disciplines would become pointless when they clearly aren't.
Of course, as should be obvious, I never profess to speak for anyone other than myself.
Etrian Odyssey didn't have the dark fantasy/horror vibe of the Souls games, but they do try to design their dungeons to be fascinating, intimidating places to explore, which goes down even to the mechanical level, such as the tense chase sequences you'll have with FOEs on the map, or the way you'll get lost and inevitably die if you're not mapping out your surroundings. Late-game bosses also have distinctly Lovecraftian vibes to them. So I do reject the 'bubbly' characterization you've made of the series outside of the vibrant character designs.
Later games have included multiple difficulty presets and, for example, included robust auto-mapping options for people so they don't have to worry about mapping out their environments and getting lost. If they made those changes for everyone, I would oppose them, but considering I can still play the newer games the same way I played older ones, I don't see any justification for opposing their inclusion.
Dark Souls loses nothing by including an easier difficulty preset. If it doesn't sound appealing, then it simply wasn't meant for you.
@Darlinfan I'm not going to "concede" a point I don't believe you have in the first place. Does FromSoftware "need" to include an easy difficulty setting to be successful? Not at all. All developers could also simultaneously drop all support for accessibility options from all games and those games would probably still be just as successful as they would otherwise have been without their inclusion. That's still not a good excuse to support not including them when they don't harm the core experience. Which is my only point, and one I don't believe you've adequately addressed in your posts.
And while we're talking about making assumptions about people (which I've not done: never once did I speak to your personal ability to play the games, or lack thereof), I don't find the games to be particularly difficult anyway when it comes to the combat. Especially more recent games like Bloodborne. It just comes down to reading enemy movements and reacting accordingly, like Monster Hunter. You can be decent at the games and still think including an easy difficulty setting wouldn't ruin them.
Metroid Dread was just released and it is the opposite of accessible. Man that second boss took a LOT of tries and cramped my hand. And I love it.
@Ralizah [shrugs] Different strokes for different folks. Some people like K-pop some like sludge metal.
If you must though: I assert that Dark Souls being unrelenting is precisely why it's art. What other game has built such a reputation for itself? And in doing so, influenced the last 10 years of gaming? Like it or not, it's a bold decision. It's the only reason why we're talking about it. Ergo it is a success.
The irony is it's really, really, really, not that hard (really).
Accessibility is a really contentious issue and it shouldn't be. It's about including options where they can be included. No one's asking for games and artistic expression to be neutered.
I'm hearing imparied. I'm not going to ask musicians to not experiment with complex soundscapes because I personally won't catch all those sonic layers. It wouldn't be ethical to impose that limitation on everyone else. (And anyway, maybe I'll like your music regardless: Loveless is one of my favorite albums and that wall of sound is so thick that even hearing-abled people can't understand the lyrics.) But if you're going to have an NPC tell me where I need to go, yes, I'll need subtitles for that very functional piece of information that hearing-abled people won't have a problem with. (Especially if I'm shooting eldritch interdimensional horrors while the NPC is doling out said information. Looking at you, Half-Life.) That's all it is.
It’s difficult to try and adapt to everyone’s limitations, there are so many potential ones out there.
My 3 year old is diagnosed with CVI, we have no idea how limited his vision is because he’s also non verbal.
We hope when he’s old enough he can play games, he wants to with his brother
It seems like Microsoft has become the leader in accessibility, but Nintendo has been trying to catch up with the kind of tech they came out with.
Lovely article by the way, this is the kind of thing I love to read about.
People born without arms are going to complain they can't play video games except for DDR. Meanwhile people born without legs are going to complain they can't play DDR or Power Pad Games. People with mental disabilities are going to complain they can't play Professor Layton games. People with seizures are going to complain they can't play any games at all. You can't please 100% of the people all of the time or even some of the people 100% of the time.
Well I’ve watched a guy beat skyward sword with his mouth and let me tell you. Absolutely impressive. Whatever Nintendo isn’t willing to do a wonderful controller called the quad stick will do. Shout out to illenialwheeler! He’s incredible! Accessibility is important and the switch is a great place to make things more accessible. Especially if Nintendo could do it only the way Nintendo could. Big N is good at giving us things we didn’t know we wanted. So why not some crazy cool contraption that allows for accessibility and is intriguing to normally abled folk?
This guy said "Folx" instead of "Folks" on twitter, not sure I can take anything he says seriously.
Some of these comments are shocking. Accessibility options should come as standard, not as an afterthought. And Nintendo is right to be criticised for adding gimmicks without accessible options
It's called "reality"
Not everyone is capable of doing anything they want. And when they are, the quality of said things tends to suffer.
@Ralizah Nothing about what he said mentioned limiting controls to 6-8 buttons as an answer. He said he's thinking about how he can press the 6-8 MAIN buttons needed to play. He's generalizing that most games take around 6-8 buttons to play and his concern isn't a gimmick like waggling, but how he can access the required buttons. You definitely misunderstood what he was saying in that regard.
Obviously regarding the gimmicks, you didn't. And I agree with you there. Nintendo has no obligation to stop innovating because this one person thinks it gets in the way of bigger concerns. There's no reason Nintendo can't address accessibility and still pursue their usual antics with experimental gameplay.
More accessibility I say! No gamer left behind! We can do this!
I’m not sure I understand this argument. The quality of a game will dip if accessibility options are added? How so?
@KillerBOB Worthy price to pay I say.
Unfortunately everything can’t be accessible to everyone, as nice as a notion it is, it’s simply not practical or realistic.
I think being realistic here is important. We can't account for every individual's unique handicap, but what's the harm in trying to standardize things like colorblind mode, lefty mode, options for the hard of hearing, or simplified control schemes?
Cater to everybody: entertain nobody. All fields of entertainment will soon be as interesting as scampi as they aim to be accessible to all in order to offend nobody.
Reading some of the comments here, I hope certain members never have to experience a special needs child, or have an accident that limits their ability to do things like play games.
@Lordplops generally i'd agree, but with this i'd say it's more about giving somebody the chance to be offended, not that we're trying to make it so they can't be at all.
@Arawn93 I wouldn’t call Switch innovation when it’s basically giant handheld.
@CharlieGirl I get your point but sometimes in life you can't do everything there is. I would love to learn martial arts as a hobby but due to mental and physical health problems i can't do it, i tried but it didn't work out. I think people nowadays expect everything to cater to them, accessibility is important but sometimes there is a point where your problems can't be worked out for what you want to do. Gaming for 95% of players is a hobby, its not a important really if you can't play them and for the majority of humans time on this planet video games didn't even exist so maybe do something else if the games you want to play can't be tailored to you? I can't learn martial arts so instead i done a hobby more suited to my needs what i could have more control over what is photography and i think this is a thing people can't grasp and that is if there's something you can't do you do something else. Its not gatekeeping its being realistic, some games can easily have a ton of accessibility options but some games can't and you will find Devs/Pubs are making games for the majority and where they can earn money so if that game can't be tailed to someone whose blind or deaf or has no hands then so be it they will be left out, its harsh but its business.
@Ruthless4u if that happens games will be well down on my list of things to care about. Priorities man, priorities.
Unfortunately some games remain inaccessible, and people are supportive of this. I tried mentioning how inaccessible Metroid: Dread is on reddit due to the E.M.M.I. and how gated off this game will be for people with disabilities, and most people just gave me the equivalent of a shrug and mentioned that not all games are supposed to be accessible. Just woow.. hopefully more work continues to be done. People disappoint me.
I mean, yeah. Theoretically, everyone can become ambidextrous with practice and time, but it really shouldn't have to be a necessity, especially when it could've easily been a choice.
And that's where Nintendo ultimately fails. Having a centre focus on Japanese culture (plus the majority of game development) hinders them from the same level of recognition that Sony got (except Sony overstepped with the PS5, prioritizing too much on western audiences).
@Darlinfan all they have to do is make an easier mode that let's you have a slightly higher chance to block the E.M.M.I. and make standard enemies hurt a little less. Then add color blind options.
It's not as hard as you think, and the idea of games just having to be hard, because that's the way they are meant to be is ableism.
People who like it harder than normal can have it their way, but don't make it worse for those that need it to be a little bit easier. What is normal for someone else might be excruciating for another person.
85 posts and the only thing I come away from this comments section with is an even deeper hatred of soulsborne then I already harbored. Please tell me the joys of Undertale and Pokemon SnS in this thread while we're at it!
@TheRedComet Very much agreed. So many positive steps in the right direction have been achieved!
Your Comments point it good out, well done.
Can't add anything.
Ah, one Thing
I am also bad at Chess, to make it more accesseable for me they have to change it in a Way, that in the End we're playing Draughts instead.
You can't change the Mechanics of every Game without changing what the Game wants to be.
Thats where it has to stop, because if not it starts to change Things others like and also to discriminate them.
Its just the Pizza Analogy.
You can order any Pizza you like, you can put on it what you want. But don't force others to eat the same Pizza, let them order their own.
And if we make a Rule that they can only make Pizza that can tastes all, we'll end up only having Pizza Magharita (in Media speech, Medicore Games/Movies).
Thats why such Topics get bad rapidly, People don't want to get forced to have a Pizza they do not like.
What doesn't means that there aren't Pizzas that can Taste two Groups.
Good to see my point was missed.
Nice article, the world needs more people like Steven! It's odd to think people somehow find accessibility as a threat.
I'm always flabbergasted when hearing architects, politicians, contractors etc.. fighting against building ramps or adding braille -writing to elevators because of "extra costs" or how "it reduces the quality of life for the majority" and of course asking the legendary question, "do they really need to get to everywhere?". And then everyone is upset when the answer to the latter is an unequivocal yes.
I do, however, find it as a quite positive matter that these things are talked and things are done about in the gaming community.
Nintendo are behind the curve massively when it comes to accessibility options and not just to other big video game publishers but also smaller indie studios. There really is no excuse for the complete lack of options available on the vast majority of their games and it's strange there are people here defending them on that point. They have more than enough money to budget this in, it would have a minuscule effect on their earnings but would allow more people to play. Seems a no brainer really.
The point about innovative control schemes and system gimmicks is something that's a bit more difficult to tackle but I think there's still ways that Nintendo could make those games more accessible if they wanted to.
@NTELLIGENTMAN 10 points for being the most ignorant and dismissive comment.
Reading certain comments on this, I'm thinking about how quickly the people who are offended by the mere mention of the word "accessibility" would change their tune if they were hit by a car or pushed off a bridge and suffered life-changing injuries which stopped them from playing video games.
@Ralizah Because they're two entirely different beasts.
One is about more options for disabled people. CC, special controllers, including seizure warnings/removing something that causes them etc. That's not a bad thing, though I imagine controllers might be pricey for a while till they can figure it out.
The other is about a hard game that was made to be hard. Either git gud, or play as far as you can, or don't play.
Those things are not comparable at all.
Anywho, good luck to his organization in their endeavors.
@AvianBlue Its a good start.
@MrHonest That is a very reductive take and if it was remotely what you said the Switch would not have nearly as taken off as much.
I met the Able Gamers crew at PSX a few years ago and they were so incredibly sweet. I'm not at all surprised by the comments people are making about how gaming can't, and worse, shouldn't, be for everyone. Not ALL games can be played by everyone but you'd be surprised at how many people you play with online have created their own adaptations through mods. You'd have no idea that I can't use a keyboard and have been playing WoW Classic with a controller since my physical abilities further deteriorated over the last year. I told a few people to be patient while I learned to map and use buttons and just got "git gud" and laughed at so I stopped saying anything. If nothing else, think of the emotional health of the people you don't think should be able to play. No, I don't expect to be able to play every game ever. I mean, can you even do that? I just want compassion and the help of studios and console makers to allow me a chance. All disabled people deserve at least a chance. Tape one of your hands into a fist for a gaming session. You'll be surprised at what you can still do just with the minimal concession of button mapping.
@Arawn93 That’s the truth. Switch is just an huge handheld console. Nothing innovative about that.
Nintendo was never at the forefront of accessibility. “Got a blister during Mario party? Pay for this overpriced medical power glove loser haha lmao”
Uh did you bring this article back up cause you updated it somewhere or to start up more discussions or arguments?
A lot of comments have mentioned different important points on both sides and I don't feel like reading all of them, but I do wish Nintendo added button options when there isn't a good excuse not to have them. My understanding is that in Mario Odyssey, you can only roll by shaking the controller. Perhaps a minor thing to some, but it was annoying to only logistically use that while playing on a TV. Same thing with BOTW puzzle rooms where you rotate the platforms. I get that it's neat to rotate a controller to interact with the game, but I'd rather use a stick. However, I don't want to eliminate motion controls. Gyro aiming is something I love even though I usually dislike motion controls. I use it for fine tuning a shot in Ocarina 3D or BOTW and that's fantastic.
I'm not sure of the additional coding involved to make both features available, but if it is possible I think that's one small feature that would go a long way for those with and without limitations. It also future proofs games easier. Skyward Sword may best be played with motion for some, but inputs will allow the game to continue if motion does not.
It makes what Xbox did with the accessibility controllers really awesome. I doubt they will make much money from those with the R&D put into it, but it’s a nice move. There are many disabled people who value videogaming in their life much more that others who aren’t limited by activities or lifestyle.
it does definitely feel like things have improved lately though that could easily end up being to do with the switch-lite rather than an attempt to add options/accessibility.
I do agree in that control options should be standard, at the very least it allows players to play a game in a way they find comfortable, while for others it can be the difference between physically being able to play a game.
after all, in the end a controller is just a tool used to interact with the game, and ideally should make the act of playing the game as intuitive as possible, and for different people what is "intuitive" varies which is why control options are vital.
I think I understand both sides of the discussion. I personally think accessibility is a welcome addition in any form of entertainment and small things like adding bigger font sizes, mappable controls, minimaps and so on.. could make a big impact by not affecting the game at all! Also having players with different abilities and mindset can only contribute to the industry.
However where I do disagree with a lot of people here is adding different difficulty modes as a way to make games more accessible and this is why. In my experience, most of the games I played that had started adding an easy mode in addition to its default mode, got significantly easier as time went on. Moreover, they sneakily make the easy mode as the default mode for all consecutive ports and versions of the game!
Just to make a specific example, Retro Final Fantasy games started adding easy mode in the PS1/GBA ports but the problem is that afterwards every consecutive port/version made the easy mode the default one! and completely erased the normal "hard" mode (which was the original difficulty mode, mind you). This is extremely evident in the FF pixel remasters versions which have an absurdly easier difficulty when compared to their original versions and you have no way to increase the difficulty at all. Pokemon albeit in a somewhat different manner has done the same (once again you can compare the overall easier difficulty found in the recent diamond/pearl remakes with their original versions).
I do not like dark souls at all, but I can understand their fears when people start asking for an easy mode to it.... there is a real concern that once they do it, there is a chance that they make consecutive games easier and easier and by doing so you are actually pushing out your original fanbase.
I do think some games are easier to adapt to different difficulty options but in my humble opinion, not all of them should be exposed to the same degree of accessibility demands.
The difficulty of the game and the difficulty to play it are 2 different things for me. While making an easy mode helps makes the game easier to play for people with disabilities, it might not represent how the rest of them want to play it.
More accessibility also means that people with disabilities can have a shot at playing the game on any difficulty as a normal functioning person does. Things like colorblind mode, making text larger, one handed mode, and even read alouds are examples on the software side. The xbox accessibility controller is the greatest attempt for that purpose on the hardware side.
I think people are confusing what accessibility should mean in this case. A game being too difficult to play (ie Dark Souls), is not an accessibility issue. It's about overcoming the challenges, and as a pretty casual gamer myself, some of my best memories came from Darks Souls 3, as it challenged and frustrated me. If you think a game is too difficult, it's really not for you, that's all.
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